|HOME - Suffering and Gospel - based on Matthew|
|ARTICLE:||SUFFERING & GOSPEL - Based on Matthew|
|OUTLINE:||PART I - Introduction|
|PART II - Suffering in Matthew's Gospel|
|1. The Nature of God|
|2. The Nature of the Gospel|
|3. The Nature of Discipleship|
|4. The Nature of Ministry|
|5. The Nature of Others|
|6. The Nature of Ourselves|
|7. The Nature of our Choices|
|8. The Nature of Evil|
|9. The Nature of the World|
|PART III - Conclusion|
|PART I - Introduction||(back to top)|
Some years ago I led many conferences on healing themes, and when I was speaking in Sweden, I felt the need to use the time away from home to have a look at suffering, to ensure that my teaching on healing was not getting imbalanced. In particular, I felt myself asking whether there were types of suffering for which there is no healing because they are in some way inseparable from life. By the time I had looked through Matthew I decided there most certainly were! This article is a summary of what I found: that there was a certain inevitability of suffering due to the nature of nine different things. I shall retain these nine things as headings. They are -
The nature of God, the nature of the Gospel, the nature of Discipleship, the nature of Christian Ministry, the nature of Others, the nature of Ourselves, the nature of our Choices, the nature of Evil, and the nature of the World.
What follows is not meant in any way to be a complete or exhaustive list. It is merely a representative selection to help us grasp nine particular facets of life which may be a trial to us, and from which our loyalty to Christ does not automatically shield us.
Simply because it is the first Gospel. I expected my examination of suffering to cover all the Gospels and Acts, but by the time I had reached the end of Matthew I had ample material. So I stopped!
The usual format of these articles, when on the web, is to have Bible 'Buttons' thus: . Since this article is a summary of Biblical material I have chosen instead to keep the majority of references within the text itself.
Words or quotations directly from Scripture are written in this style.
While folk will argue about what exactly we mean by healing or wholeness, I feel that while we might not be able to define it, we all know what suffering is. So I have looked at Matthew's Gospel and drawn out what would cause me suffering in the belief that most readers would substantially share my view of suffering and what may cause it.
Over 200 verses, that's the equivalent of over a quarter (or the first eight chapters) of Matthew are related to suffering. This ought not to have surprised me - but it did! The Cross, from which we derive the word 'ex-cruc-iating', is at the centre of our faith. Many of the New Testament leaders were martyred. If much of the Gospels is about healing, much of them is also about suffering.
|PART II - Suffering in Matthew's Gospel|
|1. The Nature of God||(back to top)|
|2. The Nature of the Gospel||(back to top)|
Following from suffering caused by the Nature of God comes that which derives from the nature of the Gospel.
|3. The Nature of Discipleship||(back to top)|
Sometimes, inseparable from suffering caused by the Nature of the Gospel is that caused by the nature of Christian
|4. The Nature of Ministry||(back to top)|
|5. The Nature of Others||(back to top)|
(a) Non Christians
Our Christian living does not remove us from the suffering caused by others, while it should give us divine aid in coping with it!
Human weakness is as apparent in the Church as outside it.
|6. The Nature of Ourselves||(back to top)|
|7. The Nature of our Choices||(back to top)|
Our commitment to Christ and his Gospel brings, as we have seen, its own share of suffering, but just as we live with
our good decisions, e.g. to follow him, so we also live with our mistakes.
|8. The Nature of Evil||(back to top)|
The surprising thing is that so much of what I have labelled 'suffering' in Matthew and outlined above seems not
directly to be the result of evil!
|9. The Nature of the World||(back to top)|
The Christian no more escapes the troubles of the world than his Master did (indeed in our century the media bring
world-wide troubles instantly to us).
|PART III - Conclusion||(back to top)|
The conclusions we can draw from this sketchy look at Matthew are:
(John 16:33, C.E.V.translation.)
|Copyright John Richards 2001, but waived for users of www.helpforchristians.co.uk|